Cooling Down Communication: Embracing the Power of the Cold Medium

Cold Medium in 10 Technologies

The lockdowns imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted our daily routines and forced us to confront the reality of isolation and social distancing. For many people, this has been a difficult and challenging time, but for some, it has provided an opportunity for self-reflection and creative exploration. One such individual is myself. During the lockdown, I have discovered a new appreciation for engaging with music and media in different ways, and this has been a positive and transformative experience.

In the past, I found myself constantly consuming media in the form of hot mediums such as television, YouTube, and streaming services like Netflix. However, over time, I began to realize that these platforms had reached their shelf life and were no longer providing me with the same level of satisfaction or engagement. I began to crave something new and different, and I found this in the form of cooler mediums such as turntables and streams, as well as my own creative pursuits.

I have always been an avid reader, but during the lockdown, I found myself delving even deeper into literature, exploring new authors and genres. I also picked up my guitar and began strumming more often, letting my mind wander and getting lost in the music. And, of course, I turned to social media platforms like Twitter, where I found myself engaging with others in new and exciting ways.

These changes in my media consumption habits have not only been a welcome distraction from the stresses of the pandemic but have also allowed me to tap into my own creativity and explore new avenues of self-expression. I am no longer content to simply consume media that is handed to me by others. Instead, I am actively seeking out new and interesting ways to engage with the world around me.

Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher, writer, and communication theorist who gained worldwide recognition for his groundbreaking work on media and its effects on human society. One of his most significant contributions to this field was the concept of “hot” and “cold” mediums.

According to McLuhan, a medium can be classified as “hot” if it is high in definition and low in participation. In contrast, a medium is considered “cold” if it is low in definition and high in participation. A hot medium, such as a television, demands a high level of attention and provides a complete sensory experience that requires little interpretation or participation from the viewer. In contrast, a cold medium, such as a book, requires active interpretation and participation from the reader to create a complete sensory experience.

McLuhan’s theories on hot and cold mediums had significant implications for our understanding of media and its impact on human society. He argued that hot mediums tend to create a sense of uniformity and passivity in society, while cold mediums encourage participation, interaction, and critical thinking. In this sense, cold mediums can be seen as more democratic, as they require a higher level of engagement and participation from the user.

One of the key characteristics of cold mediums is their ability to be inclusive and participatory. McLuhan argued that cold mediums, such as the telephone or the internet, allow for greater interaction and exchange of ideas between individuals, leading to a more democratic and participatory society. In contrast, hot mediums, such as television or radio, tend to create a more passive and homogeneous society, where individuals are more likely to consume information than to actively participate in its creation or dissemination.

Furthermore, McLuhan believed that cold mediums encourage greater creativity and innovation. In his view, the low definition of cold mediums requires the user to fill in the gaps and create their own meaning, leading to a more active and creative engagement with the medium. In contrast, hot mediums provide a complete and highly structured sensory experience, leaving little room for interpretation or creativity.

In conclusion, Marshall McLuhan’s theory of hot and cold mediums has had a profound impact on our understanding of media and its role in shaping human society. His work has highlighted the importance of participatory and interactive media in promoting democracy, creativity, and innovation. As we continue to develop new technologies and media, it is essential to consider the implications of hot and cold mediums for our society and our individual experiences.

Next a list of ten technologies listed can be considered a cold medium:

  1. Augmented Reality (AR) – AR is considered a cold medium because it requires active participation and engagement from the user to interpret and integrate the digital information into the real world.
  2. Virtual Reality (VR) – VR is a cold medium because it creates a fully immersive environment that demands active engagement from the user to interact with and navigate.
  3. Haptic Feedback – Haptic feedback is a cold medium because it involves physical sensations that are less intense than those experienced in the real world, and therefore require more active interpretation by the user to understand and respond to.
  4. Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) – BCIs are considered a cold medium because they involve a direct interface between the user’s brain and a digital device, requiring conscious interpretation and control by the user.
  5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI is a cold medium because it involves the simulation of human-like intelligence and decision-making, but does not engage the senses or require active participation from the user.
  6. BlockchainBlockchain is considered a cold medium because it creates decentralized, secure systems for exchanging data and transactions that do not require active participation from the user once they are set up.
  7. Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT is a cold medium because it involves the connection of everyday objects and devices to the internet, but does not necessarily require active participation or engagement from the user once they are connected.
  8. 3D Printing3D printing is considered a cold medium because it involves the creation of physical objects from digital designs, which do not necessarily engage the senses or require active interpretation by the user once the design is created.
  9. Quantum Computing – Quantum computing is a cold medium because it involves the processing of information using quantum-mechanical phenomena, but does not necessarily engage the senses or require active participation from the user once the system is set up.
  10. Nanotechnology – Nanotechnology is considered a cold medium because it involves the manipulation of matter at the nanoscale, which is too small to be directly perceived by the senses, and does not necessarily require active interpretation or participation from the user once the materials or devices are created.

The collapse of the electric medium that has shaped our postwar consensus has significant implications for our sense of identity and the way we engage with the world around us. As we move towards a new era of media and communication, it is important to consider how we can adapt and evolve our identities to meet the challenges of this changing landscape.

One possible approach is exit through exaptation. This concept involves taking existing features or functions and repurposing them in new and unexpected ways. By doing so, we can create novel solutions and pathways that were not possible before. This approach allows us to break free from the constraints of the old medium and explore new avenues of creativity and innovation.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether these changes will coalesce into a new form of media or art. However, I believe that the potential is there. If someone can find a way to combine these different mediums and approaches into something truly innovative and inspiring, the future is theirs for the taking.

In the meantime, I am content to continue exploring and experimenting with different forms of media and creative expression. I believe that the surest bet is to turn all of this into an art form and to attach ourselves to the objects and atmosphere around us. We must resist the urge to always seek out the familiar and known, and instead embrace the unknown and explore the uncharted territories of our own creativity.

In closing, I am reminded of the Brian Eno prompt, “Think desires and convert to sources.” This is a powerful reminder that we must tap into our own desires and passions in order to create something truly original and inspiring. By doing so, we can unlock new levels of creativity and innovation and chart a course towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.

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